- Jason Davis

On Monday in Vancouver, Don Garber said what everyone already knew: MLS won't be switching the "international" calendar, the same one much of Europe is on and Sepp Blatter believes is crucial to soccer's success in North America (of course, Sepp knows zip about soccer in North America, so how he knows what is crucial to the game's success here is anyone's guess), anytime soon. All that talk back at MLS Cup about "studies" to consider the switch was a public show for FIFA ExCo voters who ultimately chose Qatar over the United States to host the World Cup in 2022 anyway.


"I'm not sure if we are ever going to get full alignment with FIFA's international calendar," Garber said. "That being said . . . there are not enough weeks in our current schedule to really have an ideal schedule. We are going to have to continue to look at expanding our season."

Garber admitted the FIFA vote was a factor in what he said in November.

"We thought it would be smart to show the international football community that we were open to do some things that would more align with the international confines of the sport," Garber said. "That is probably less important for us now."

MLS Cup Final was perfectly timed for Garber to give lip service to a calendar switch. Just a few weeks ahead of the vote, intimating that MLS might look into the possibility of studying the feasibility of a switch was a blatant eleventh hour attempt to curry favor with FIFA voters. Even then, Garber's statement was ambiguous enough that it committed the League to nothing while giving the impression of open-mindedness on one of Blatter's pet issues. It was unsubtle. At the time, we wondered if it might actually do more harm than good considering how obviously disingenuous it appeared.

Considering how little European soccer officials seem to know about how things are done in the US, I don't think we could assume they realized Garber was patronizing them just to improve the chances of another American World Cup. The risk was worth the potential reward. Most soccer fans here knew Garber was dumping a load of bullshit, but perhaps FIFA would buy it anyway.

Obviously Garber's calendar-switch nonsense, and everything else the US bid committee did for that matter, didn't work. Qatar won the 2022 bid, and we're left to pick up what is left of shattered dreams. For the majority of fans and observers, Garber didn't really need to address what he said in Toronto; but someone in Vancouver asked, so he answered, and somewhat honestly. For that, a bit of credit is in order. He could have easily obfuscated, claimed a switch is actually something the League might consider (far) down the road, and left himself ample room to play both sides of an issue that will forever remain on the agenda of the Society for the Europization of American  Soccer. Instead, he left only a crack, with a reasonable qualifier about expanding a schedule that is currently too short for comfort.

If you took Garber's words at face value (something you probably shouldn't do, ever - it's his job to make the League look good) and were in favor of a calendar switch, the commissioner's admission yesterday that the whole thing was a show for FIFA might be disappointing. Then again, if you're in favor of a switch to a calendar that would guarantee multiple match cancellations a year, logic might not be your strong suit.

As you were.

It has been pointed out to me that this isn't the first instance of Garber backing away from the calendar switch comments, just the latest. Brian Straus of Fanhouse had the story a month ago, and I either missed it (doubtful) or chose not to comment on the blog at the time. Credit should naturally go where credit is due. 

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